It's a Beautiful World (Live) released November 2015
VA with Dan King Fall 2015
Where did you come up with the title?
“It’s a Beautiful World” was the last line I came up with for
“Amanda’s Song” about a year and a half after I started writing it. A song I’ve dedicated to my wife. It was one of the first near completed songs I wrote when we were fresh and in love and KBMG started performing it live as “Don’t Look Back” for a working title. We both had pasts we had to deal with and “Don’t Look Back” was a bit of reference to that. KBMG brought it into the studio, it was one of the extra studio singles I planned on adding, and I just never felt it was quite finished. When redoing the vocals in the studio I came up with that line for the Chorus “It’s a beautiful world when you keep that love around” and finally felt the song was worthy to be dedicated to my better half. She’s changed my life immensely and though I’ve always been fascinated by the darker sides of music this one is all love and overcoming darkness. She makes my life beautiful and I’m a lucky guy.
Can you expand on darkness in music?
Well, while there are no easy answers but in my view it’s about the beauty of the blues, that transformation of taking pain and making something beautiful out of it. What an incredible thing humans can do. I still find it fascinating. Keith Richards talks of the expressiveness of the blues and that’s something that really gets my attention and I agree with. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing happy go lucky. I love a good celebration. I just find the blues feeling to go a bit deeper, be a bit more thoughtful and interesting when it comes to my own art. Folk and Blues really work fairly naturally for me as a guitar player and singer as well so I just haven’t been fighting it lately! Having some like-minded legendary players to help me along the way doesn’t hurt either. Ironically, when I was putting the track list together, with titles including the words, Runaway, Train to Cry, Feeling Bad, Raggedy, I had to laugh at the “Beautiful World” title I’d already come up with and it just stuck. The title placed on top of a Jon Sarkin painting, another like-minded blues and folk fan, looked right and the whole package came together.
You’ve got two different lead vocalists joining you on the studio tracks, how did that come about?
Working as an entertainment manager all these years I really get to meet a lot of folks and it gets me out of the house to check out new acts. Also, I love to hear the different interpretations of my songs. The first singles we finished are from last year when I was working a bit with Joe Wilkins. He opened for us at the Old Sloop. I thought his voice would sound good on “Revolution Time” and was happy he could do it. Really did a great job.
Mari Martin moved back to Cape Ann a few years ago and she’s done a fantastic job for me doing gigs and I love her band.
When I was recording “Amanda’s Song” I really wanted a female vocalist on there who was more in the range of my wife’s favorites Shawn Colvin and Alison Kraus. My wife loves Mari too so the choice was obvious. Mari, who’s had experience working with vocals genius Kenny Loggins, knew exactly where I was coming from and hit it just right.
We also had Joe Kessler play some fiddle for that down home flavor on “Trailer Blues”, plus the kids and friends doing gang vocals on “Show Me The Stars Tonight”. We did a recording field trip to the Denison Street Water Tower on a beautiful day and made some fun memories.
Why the Old Sloop for the live record?
We actually record when we can, it was available and this situation seemed to be right for us. The band had been playing rather well lately, we had some new material since our last live recordings, it had been a while since we recorded at Berklee Performance Center, and it was a different set up for us being mostly acoustic, coffee house style. Geof Lyon at Old Sloop has some great gear and we employed engineer Warren Babson to help out. You never really know what’s going to happen but we were blessed with an attentive audience and got some really top performances on record.
Is it harder to do a live record live than in the studio?
The beauty of live recordings sometimes is that once the levels are set and you mix one tune that technique should theoretically work for the rest of the performances. That was kind of the mindset I went into when beginning the mix down process. Unsurprisingly there’s always something to throw you off. In this case it was the dynamics of the band, the differences in volume that we employ along the way, which makes for an exciting and varied performance, but makes recording and producing it back a bit more interesting. KBMG goes from quiet intimate moments to raucous blues to high energy two stepping. Most modern and studio recordings are pretty flat with very consistent volume for the drums and bass using compression to keep everything in line. I found this almost impossible as the tonal qualities of the instruments, drums mostly, change at different volumes. I thought the more compressed mixes really sucked the life out of the performances and the “thing” we do, the magic was a bit lost.
In the end I decided to go with almost no compression. The quiet moments are real. I think the best example is “Handmade with Love”, one of the more recent songs, where we start out quiet and very muted but by the end the song blossoms into this rich, lustrous, wave of sound. I don’t mind sacrificing a bit of production to really capture the performance, imperfections and all.
Why did you include cover songs and those particular cover songs?
Cover songs have always been a big part of our band. We are not very puritanical when it comes to performing. We play what feels right on any given night most of the time. Sometimes I get sick of listening to my own compositions and lean on covers and sometimes we’ll do 90 percent original depending on the gig. There’s something very freeing and grounding in playing a song like “Going down the road feeling Bad”. It’s traditional, writer unknown, and folks have been playing it for over 100 years. “Dirty Old Town” is another one of those, written by Ewan MacColl, that really seems as true and poignant today as it was when it was written so many years ago, dealing with urban renewal and the changing of time. We feature Dave Mattacks stepping out from behind the drums to play Piano wonderfully on that one which made the recording extra special. The other covers by Bob Dylan and Garcia/Hunter, while being more modern, are steeped in that traditional folk and blues feeling that we all love playing. I guess it’s about staying connected to the past for me anyway, don’t want to speak for the rest of the fellas, but I’m an old history and nostalgia bum. Laughs.
Dan King - Guitar, Vocals
David Brown - Guitar, Vocals
Dave Mattacks - Drums, Keys
Wolf Ginandes - Bass
Mari Martin - Vocals
Joe Wilkins - Vocals
Dennison Street Choir -Vocals
with Abigail Cook, Willa Brosnihan, Cole Cunningham, Thea Cunningham, Calvin Del Vecchio, Amanda Cook, Michele Del Vecchio, Jane Cunnginham
Old Sloop Engineered by Geof Lyon and Warren Babson
Studio Songs engineered by Dan King
All Song Mixed and Mastered by Dan King
Cover Art by Jon Sarkin
It’s A Beautiful World (Live) will be available on ITunes, Spotify, Amazon, and more for Digital Distribution and you can purchase CDs at KBMG shows.